PHILADELPHIA — Shelly Ward-Moore was going through her email on June 16 when she got to The Inquirer’s morning newsletter. The subject line that day was, “Can you help her find her biological parents?”
Believing the line referred to an event that happened this year, Ward-Moore tried to delete the email, but for some reason, she couldn’t.
“I thought my computer was hacked,” she said. “It was almost like, ‘You’re not going to delete this until you read it,’ so I said, ‘Maybe I just need to read this anyway.’ ”
The featured story in the newsletter that day was about Cheryl Edwards, a woman who was found in a pillowcase as a newborn in a Philadelphia rowhouse. The headline read: “Abandoned at birth in West Philly in 1967, she still seeks answers.”
“As soon as I saw the headline I was like, ‘I know this story!’ And as soon as I saw my grandfather’s name I screamed,” Ward-Moore, 65, of West Oak Lane, said. “I was the only one home and I ran up the steps and down the steps and I was screaming ‘OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! This is the baby!’ ”
Within 24 hours of Edwards’ story running online, Ward-Moore, her sister, Geraldine Ward, 62, and several members of their extended family contacted The Inquirer to say they not only knew Edwards’ story, but they believed they were her biological relatives.
“I’ll tell her everything she wants to know. I will 100% be willing to do a DNA test,” Ward-Moore said the day after the story ran. “Even if we’re not related, I feel connected to her. I’ve been through days since yesterday.”
On Aug. 13 — one day before Edwards’ 54th birthday — DNA test results proved what Ward-Moore believed all along: Edwards is her first cousin. A few weeks later, DNA testing also confirmed Edwards has a half-brother.
“Since the age of 9 up until the age of 53 I had no idea about my past. All of those years of wondering and not 24 hours after the story goes out, we get an answer. I’m still blown away by it,” Edwards said. “For people to read the story in its entirety and make immediate connections and act on it, it had to be God-ordained. I can’t explain it any other way.”
Hidden in a pillowcase